Adam Cooper's Trackforward

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Who is going to find the winning energy in F1’s power cut? It’s too close to call right now

You’ve heard it many times before at this time of year, but as we head into what promises to be a fascinating season, there really is a sense that 2006 represents a step into the unknown.

Just as rules stability allows the pack to close up, as was evident last year, so a major set of changes serves to shake things up. The switch to V8 power has proved to be a major undertaking — while most engine men admit that they were able to carry over a lot of knowledge from the V10 era, the downsizing has had a much wider impact, especially on aero departments.

The emphasis has switched from finding every last scrap of downforce to improving overall efficiency in a general quest to find straightline speed sapped by the power cut. In turn the smaller engines have allowed designers to create tidier and less draggy rear ends, while the reduced cooling requirement has also favoured drag reduction. All this means that the guys in the wind tunnels have been as busy as if they’d been saddled with a major rules change, and not all of them will have got it right.

The final year of tyre competition is of course key to what happens this year. With the teams now shared out on a more equitable basis Bridgestone is in a much stronger position, but it would be wrong to assume that the return of race tyre changes will automatically see the Japanese company bounce back to where it was in 2004, or that Michelin will do a worse job than it did last season. The contest really is wide open, and will no doubt ebb and flow as the year goes on.

So who’s looking good? At the time of writing the last of the new cars were making their testing debuts, and it was still way too early to get a clear picture. However, Renault and Honda appeared to be in good shape out of the box, while McLaren (engine woes) and Red Bull (cooling calculations out) were not. All the other significant players were somewhere in between, although some had yet to really show their hands.

Whatever happens in Bahrain on March 12, it won’t necessarily tell the full story of what might unfold over the full 19 races. There is certainly a big advantage to be gained both there and especially in Malaysia a week later. The new engines, running consecutive weekends in searing heat, will be given the ultimate test right at the start of the year.

But the pace of development at the major teams is now so extraordinary — Toyota already has a revamped TF106B scheduled for Monaco — that as the European season gets going and temperatures drop, the picture could change dramatically. It’s going to be fun!